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      Creating Healthy Eating Meal Plan For Beginners

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      As a beginner, it can be very difficult to figure out how to eat healthy. You may know the basics, like to eat vegetables and whole grains, but it can be hard to translate that information into a day of healthy eating. That’s where it can be helpful to learn how to create a healthy eating meal plan.

      Creating the perfect healthy eating meal plan includes a few different components.

      First, you need to include foods that cover your nutrition basics. Things like fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and calcium rich foods.

      Next is to brainstorm foods you enjoy within these categories. Broccoli over brussel sprouts? No problem.

      Then you want to add in a few treats (to keep your sanity) and plan out how you are going to eat these foods in meal form.

      If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry!

      I’ve broken down all these steps below for your reading pleasure.

      1. The Nutrition Framework

      The first is ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition. 

      This is to make sure you are getting enough nutrients to prevent deficiencies. 

      This can be done in so many ways, but in general, if you are getting enough food from each category, then you will be getting in the nutrients you need to prevent deficiencies.

      So, what are these categories? Let’s look into each of them.

      1. Fruits and Vegetables (5-6 cups per day)

      It’s important to try to get 5-6 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.

      Typically it’s recommended you have 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day to get this amount (this depends on the person though).

      But, if you love fruit and hate vegetables, it’s better to eat more fruit to compensate for the smaller consumption of vegetables.

      This is because fruit and vegetable nutrient composition are rather similar, meaning they contain similar vitamins and minerals.

      The main difference is that fruit is higher in sugar content and calories.

      It’s also important to ensure you are getting in all the colors of the rainbow.

      This is because each color has different nutrients that are beneficial to health.

      Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables that are white, red or orange, purple or blue, and of course, green!

      2. Grains (3-4 cups per day)

      Grains are a great source of iron and B vitamins.

      To ensure you are getting in enough fiber, try making at least half of your grains whole grains.

      Examples of whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, popcorn, and quinoa.

      3. Lean Proteins (5-6 ounces per day)

      Lean proteins will be your main source of protein.

      Meats are a great way to get in your protein, but you can also try beans or peanut butter.

      4. Calcium Rich Foods (3-4 cups per day)

      Dairy is going to be your best way to get calcium into your diet.

      But, if you are vegan, don’t like dairy, or you do not digest it properly, some other calcium rich sources include tofu, dark leafy greens, and fortified plant milks.

      5. Fatty Foods (2-3 tbsp per day)

      It’s super important to get healthy fats into your diet!

      Plant oils such as olive, avocado, and canola oil are great sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. 

      Plus, foods such as flaxseed, chia seeds, avocado, and olives are great fatty foods to add into your diet!

      Include each of these foods in the proper amounts in your diet, you will be covering all your nutritional needs.

      We’ll learn more about how to combine these foods to make meals for the whole day a little later on.

      Aren’t sure how much to eat in each category? Remember to listen to your body!

      If you feel unsatisfied and hungry at the end of the day, you may need to up your grains or lean protein consumption.

      If you feel overfull and sick at the end of the day, you may need to reduce your intake of these foods a bit.

      Your body truly is the best judge, so adjust as needed.

      It’s also important to remember that some days you will need more food than others. For example, if you worked out or are on your period, you’ll likely be hungrier! 

      And that’s perfectly ok. Adjust your intake every day based on your hunger and/or cravings.

      2. Modify Based On Your Needs

      If getting adequate nutrition was the only component of healthy eating, then everyone could eat the exact same thing everyday and be content.

      This simply isn’t the case!

      This is why personal preferences is another important component.

      Sure, you can eat the same foods as me every day and you would be properly nourished, but it’s likely you wouldn’t be satisfied.

      It’s important to choose foods you enjoy within each category so you are satisfied and happy.

      For example, if you love grapes, but hate cantaloupe, don’t eat cantaloupe!

      Choose foods within each category that you genuinely enjoy. Don’t just choose certain foods cause you “hear” they are the best or healthiest options.

      When it comes down to it, choose foods you enjoy and know you will eat, because being imperfectly consistent is much better than being perfectly inconsistent. 

      In other words, it’s better to eat a diet that isn’t 100% perfect, but you can stick to long term, than eating a diet that is 100% perfect that you can only stick to for a few weeks.

      3. Don’t Be Afraid To Add Some Fun

      It’s so important to remember to treat yourself. 

      As I mentioned before, the best diet for you is one that you can stick to

      And that means adding in treats throughout the day! Because no one wants to stick to a diet that says you can never eat cake.

      For example, I have a bowl of ice cream every single night. Sometimes I even add in a cookie or other baked dessert.

      I look forward to my treat every night and it’s something that brings me joy.

      If you are scared to eat added sugar, read this article

      I promise you, a little pleasure food every day will not make you unhealthy, especially if you are eating nutrient dense foods throughout the day.

      4. Plan Out Your Meals For The Day

      Next is to put all this information into action.

      Look at what foods you are incorporating into your diet throughout the day and organize it!

      This can be as loose or rigid as you would like, to eat his own.

      If you’d like an example, here is how a typical day goes for me:

      Breakfast = yogurt + fruit + grain 

      Lunch = some type of raw vegetable + fruit + cheese + meat + grain

      Snack = protein + grain

      Dinner = grain + cooked vegetable + meat

      Dessert = ice cream + baked dessert (if I have any on hand)

      As you can see, it’s very relaxed. 

      Some days I’ll have a granola bar with breakfast, sometimes some toast.

      I also don’t measure out my portions, I just give myself a solid scoop of everything.

      Sure, it may be difficult to know if I’m getting the exact proper amounts of every nutrient, but in the end, as long as I’m getting in a variety of foods, I know I’m good.

       Eating healthy shouldn’t be stressful!  

      If you need some more structure to start out, feel free to be as specific as you like. And vice versa. If you want to have more loose structure, that’s fine too.

      Also, if you are lost on how to prepare these foods, take some time searching the internet for healthy recipes!

      It’s also great to use raw fruit and vegetables as snacks to fill in the cracks, if that’s up your alley!

      Final Thoughts on Creating a Healthy Eating Meal Plan

      Remember that healthy eating is a lifetime journey.

      You won’t get it perfect the first day and maintain that the rest of your life.

      Find a way of eating that is sustainable and easy to maintain.

      Also, don’t be afraid to fall short on vegetables one day. It matters how you are eating overall. One day won’t ruin your health, I promise you!

      You will likely improve over time, so if you can only withstand 2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day for now, start with that and work up to 5 cups. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

      To conclude, creating a healthy eating meal plan consists of eating nutrient dense foods you enjoy, adding in fun treats throughout the day, and planning out how you want to structure your meals.

      And guess what – you’ve already made the first step by reading this article.

      Good luck to you and here’s to healthy eating for life!

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      HELLO THERE!

      My name is Tia and I am a Registered Dietitian and content creator. My goal is to help young women learn how to eat healthy without giving up enjoyment and satisfaction.

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